Wednesday, December 31, 2008

He Loves Us

We left my Grandma's house at 9PM Monday night. We had planned to leave around 5 or so, but the electrical job Ray was doing at a friends house took much longer than expected.

The drive home is 6 hours, so by leaving at 9 our ETA for getting home was going to be 3AM. Our hope by driving home at night was to a) get home a day earlier so Ray could work on Tuesday, and b) drive while the kids (Calvin specifically) were sleeping.

We stopped to refuel in Willits, the halfway point in our journey. Ray's eye was bothering him, so I offered to drive for a while. I don't like driving at night. It is scary, and hard to see. I was driving the speed limit and nothing more. Annoying to others, I know, but as my dad says "better safe than sorry."

The highway is mostly one lane in each direction with spots where it goes to two lanes for passing. On the way out of town there was a car driving pretty close behind me, obviously eager to get by. I was glad to finally get to a two lane stretch to let the car get around me. It was not the last we would see of it though.

After the railroad tracks and the passing lane section the road goes back to one lane and winds up a hill. By now Ray had settled in and, though he was not asleep, he had his eyes closed to rest the one that was bugging him.

As we crested the hill and started to pick up some speed on the other side Raymond sat up suddenly, pointed ahead of us and started yelling "Watch Out! Watch Out! Watch Out!" In a moment my mind flipped through the possibilities: deer, bolder, ice... Then I saw the brake lights of the car ahead of us. I saw some smoke or exhaust around it, and realized it must be stopping. The headlights seemed oddly placed and as I screamed and veered into the south bound lane to avoid the car I deduced it must have piled on top of another car.

Thank goodness no one was coming in the opposite lane. We swerved around the wreck and realized the car was sliding on it's roof. It had flipped over. No other cars were involved. We were safe. But what about the passengers in the wrecked vehicle?

Raymond was yelling to pull over. He handed me the cell phone, and immediately got out of the car and ran to the wreck to help. We were the only witnesses out in the middle of now-where. The wreck was on a curvy down hill stretch of road, and the wrecked vehicle was smack in the middle of the only north-bound lane.

Frantically I tried to turn on the cell phone to dial 911. I am not a cell phone owner myself, and with all the adrenalin I had pumping through me at that moment I could not remember how to turn it on. Luckily Ray has two cell phones (for two different jobs) and the second was already turned on. I called 911.

As the phone rang I debated whether to get out of the car and leave the kids, who were NOT asleep after the crazy driving and screaming. Calvin was crying hysterically, so I got out in order to hear the operator.

"911, what's your emergency?" The operator was amazing. I am so thankful for this service. I have never dialed 911 before, and boy, that woman knew all the questions to ask. I frantically told her about the wreck, that the car was upside-down in the middle of the road. I ran up toward the wreckage and saw a young woman walking around the car, talking on her cell. Ray called to me that she seemed alright and that there was no one else in the car. I relayed the info. The operator asked to talk to the girl, so I handed her the phone and told her it was 911. She said okay, and hung up her phone. She had been talking to her mom. She got on with the operator and told her she thought she okay, but would be needing a tow truck. Before she could say much more we lost reception. On this stretch of the 101 we were very 'lucky' to have had reception at all.

Our next concern after making sure the driver was not in need of medical attention was to make sure no other drivers hit the vehicle. Before our trip I had decided on a whim to put a flashlight in the car that also has a red strobe light in it. I dug out the flashlight and gave it to Ray. Ray stood up by the wreckage with the strobe going, waving his arms and the light as cars came over the hill. Our car was down hill from the wreck, and I had our headlights, interior lights, and emergency flashing lights going to alert drivers coming from the other direction.

At one point while we waited for the Highway Patrol to arrive a truck driver stopped and gave us a couple flares. This helped immensely. A guy with a flashlight waving is one thing, but when a driver sees flares, well that really got them to slow down.

A nurse on her way home from her job stopped to help at one point, but didn't stay. The boys were both crying. It was cold, and I was on high alert. My fear was that the car would be hit again. It was in a really bad spot. The girl in the crash didn't share our concern for the severity of the situation. She was walking around the car, talking on the phone to family, making light hearted statements. I think she was really nervous, and she seemed young.

It was probably at least a half hour later that the Highway patrol finally arrived. Again, I am so thankful for those who serve the public. Once they were there, I felt so much safer. The kids were not amused by the flashing lights though, and I was ready to get out of there! We had to stick around for Ray to give a statement. When he was done, he came back to the car and got in the driver seat. There was no way I was driving after all that!

Key in the ignition. Turn. Silence. "You've got to be kidding!" Dumb, I know, but in the frantic first moments of being at the scene it seemed to make sense to turn the car off. All the lights had drained our battery. The Highway Patrol man directing south bound traffic must have seen us slapping our foreheads in disgust, because he came over and asked if we needed help. Ray told him our battery had died, and he said no problem, someone would help us out.

We waited another ten minutes as we watched the tow truck driver skillfully flip the car upright. That's something I'd never seen. Soon the sheriff zipped down the hill to our car and gave us a jump. He thanked us for helping out the girl, who we never did learn a name. Off we went.

As we drove away, wide eyed as you can imagine, I told Ray that if he had not seen that car wrecking, we would have hit it. I did not see the crash as soon as he did. And when I did see it, I did not at first comprehend in the dark what was happening. I know, beyond a doubt that I would have reacted to late.

As we had talked here and there during the ordeal Ray had told me how he thought he had seen the rear lights of the car flip flop, but now he said to me, "Kim, I don't think I actually saw that crash with my eyes."

"What do you mean?" I asked.

"I had my eyes closed."

Whoa. He loves us, doesn't He.

Be safe tonight, everyone.
Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas 2008 and Rotavirus Craziness

Christmas this year was wonderful. We spent Monday 22nd with Raymond's family who live in town. We had a wonderful dinner, a couple gifts for the kids, and just a good time hanging out with Ray's folks, Aunt Renee and Uncle Russ, Uncle Ryan and Kassie.

On Wednesday we left town to drive down to see my Grandma and Grandpa. Grandpa is in the hospital this Christmas. He is 92 (or is it 93, now?), and not doing really great with his health just lately. Grandma is just as well as ever, but feeling sad about her sweetie not being home. Grandma Phyllis is and amazing, and trusting in the Lord to accomplish His perfect will in her life and in Grandpa's as well.

Also, we were blessed to meet my aunt Laurie's husband Tim for the first time. (Welcome to the family, Tim!) My mom and dad are also here, as was my sister, Kelly.

It has been such a relief to spend this Christmas with my side of the family. I love Ray's family, but have been so home sick for mine. My Grandpa and Grandma and Aunt had not even met Calvin before our visit. We live in a geographically isolated area of California. There are highways in and out, but they are crazy twisty roads that are frequently closed due to mud slides in the winter. It is really hard for us to make the trek from Humboldt to Nevada counties. I wish we could do it more often.

While Christmas has been amazing, and I love being with family, our entire Christmas this year has been punctuated by one thing: Rotavirus. Or as my dad prefers to call it: Roto-Rooter.

I was the first to get it about a week before Christmas while my folks were up visiting. Knocked me out! I am so glad they were in town to help with the kids. (Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!)

Next Charlie got it. He is still dealing with puke and, you know, "loose stools" or "monumental blow-outs," however you prefer to think of it. Poor guy.

Next it was my dad, then my aunt and uncle, now my Grandma. We are praying Grandpa is spared. For whatever reason Ray, my mom, and Calvin have seemed to resist the virus.

Oh, my other Uncle Tim also came down with a stomach bug, but he was here before my folks, so I think this thing has a long incubation, and it is extremely contagious.

After a week, I finally feel back to normal. My dad is doing better. Charlie seemed to be doing better, but had a major blow-out last night (the worst ever that we've seen from him), plus he puked. Grandma is in bed today gingerly sipping apple juice. We were hoping to go visit my other Grandma who lives in a nursing home, but we've started to feel like we are harbingers of disease, so we may end up passing up that opportunity:(

Pictures to come soon (of the good stuff, not the Rotavirus part).
Pray for us!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Can I just share my heart?

You know, if I owned a journal, this would probably not be going up here. But, I am fresh out of private places to write (aside from easily lost scraps of paper and post-it notes), so instead you all get to hear my heart.

I think it was last year at Christmas time as Ray and I perused the Reece's Rainbow Angel Tree gallery for a child to sponsor that we decided we would one day adopt a child with Down Syndrome from overseas. There is just no question. We know it is something we want to do.

Our feeling at the time was that we should wait until certain other things come to pass in our lives: finish having babies, buy a house, build a career, make more money.

When I think about it, the list is the same as it was before we got pregnant with Charlie. We had a bunch of criteria we felt we needed to meet before starting a family. Well, thank goodness for surprises or who knows how long we would have waited. I mean, who can say when all this will come to pass. Who can say if it will come. Really, how much money are a brilliant musician and his day-dreamy wife ever going to make? Somehow, I think not very much. We're fine with that most of the time. But I digress.

Thing is, I feel pregnant. I feel pregnant with the idea that our family could expand by one. One messy haired, stout little boy with Down Syndrome and clever smile.

I'm nesting. Every move I make just lately is with the idea in mind that we will take the leap to adopt. I keep thinking about making space in our new house. How will we arrange. What kind of sleeping situation could we rig up in the boys room to make space for one more little fellow. Seriously, I'm like a little girl playing house.

Where is this coming from? I mean, where is the voice of reason? If you knew our current situation, you would probably agree with me: we are in no place to take such a huge financial leap of a cliff. Not to mention, we've got our hands full with two small boys. Are we ready to go from being evenly matched to out-numbered?

But I can't help but look at all the beautiful faces on the Reece's Rainbow web site and think: compared to an orphan, we are rich. Rich materially, emotionally, we have stability, we have love in Christ. We have everything we could ever need to affect a child's life for eternity.

I keep day dreaming of a herd of little boys paling around in the front yard. Three little boys having peanut butter and jelly at the kitchen table. Three boys pushing little wooden trains down the tracks in the living room. I keep day dreaming of bunk beds in the children's room, and three dirty little pairs of shoes by the front door.

In many ways (and I mean, everyday something new) I feel God confirming to me that it is his will for us to adopt. Heck, any Christian knows that God calls us to minister to the widow and the orphan. Beyond that, I feel in a very personal way that he is nudging me toward family expansion. (And, I don't mean pregnancy. I need a serious break from that!)

But in all honesty, I'm struggling.

I feel like Jacob wrestling with God. Can't he see my frustrations, my questions, my reasoning. The time can't possibly be right. Can it? I want it to be. Will be provide?

In some ways I feel like "Why would God place such an overwhelming desire in our hearts, but not provide the means? We are willing servants, God, but you've not provided a way to act."

In some ways I feel like He is releasing us to go forward, but I am too scared to take the first step without some sort of obvious deposit. I want God to prove His intentions. Where is my faith?!

I am inspired by the many people whom I've met through on-line who are taking the step to pursue adoption. Most of these folks sound like ordinary people like us. Not rich in possessions, but rich in faith, rich in Christ. It hurts my heart to feel like I am being left behind. I want to be there now.

In the mean time, I continue to pray. God is working in his own way in Raymond, too. Raymond is the reasonable one of the two of us. I'm the dreamer and the one who makes things infinitely more complicated than they need to be. But how can I remain collected when all these beautiful little boys and girls have no family, and my arms ache to hold them.

Maybe I can try a cardboard sign campaign to raise the money. It will read:
HAVE LOVING FAMILY, NEED ORPHAN
$PLEASE HELP$


Well, Merry Christmas, All.
God bless you tonight.
--K

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

It's Confirmed!

We have a first word! "HAT"

Calvin is repeating a lot of sounds and words we are saying just lately, and "hat" seemed to be the first and most frequently used word. When he says it it comes out "aaaat" or "dat". He is also imitating these words: light, tree, and dad. He says mama, too. Actually, he does not imitate us saying mama. He says it of his own accord, but only when he is upset.

This little kid is blowing us away! I had no idea babies could learn words this early.

Charlie's first word was also "hat." Actually, it was his first sign and his first word. He was 15 months old. I guess these brothers think alike!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

IEP Update and We're Moving

It's been a few days. We've been enjoying a visit from Nana and Papa and not spending much time on the computer, I guess. I'll post some Nana and Papa pics soon.

First, the "We're Moving" part. You might remember that we recently moved into the perfect little house with a perfect little yard for the kids just a couple months ago. Well, everything was going great until winter hit. Once the rain started, the mold came. Crazy mold everywhere! Charlie is having allergies to the mold, and it is getting on our stuff. The house is so damp that the papers on our desk are no longer crisp. They are limp from so much moisture.

Well, just as we were connecting Charlie's poor health to the mold, and feeling more and more exasperated as we found mold on many of our things, we were offered the opportunity to rent a cottage from some very close friends of ours. In fact, it is the cottage Raymond and I lived in when we were first married. It has it's querks, but it does not have mold, and so, We're Moving!

We will be living in the middle cottage of a row of cottages, most rented by dear friends. We are very excited!

Now for the IEP part. Moving to the new cottage will put us in a different school district. We are moving January 15th, 7 days after Charlie turns 3. By law, Charlie must have an IEP by his 3rd birthday. It is all very technical.

Soooo... We had his IEP meeting as planned last Thursday with the school district in which we currently reside. It was actually a very pleasant meeting. I brought home made oatmeal cookies (that Nana baked, but I got the credit;), and I brought pictures of Charlie for people to keep in their file folders. I think these two little extras helped to set the mood for a relaxed meeting.

This IEP was in many ways a warm up for the one we will have in January after we move to the new school district. We spent a lot of time discussing just how great Charlie is doing. Then, we set his IEP up to extend his Early Start services for another 45 days until we get the IEP with the new district in place.

There were no tears, no frustration. I felt so positive about Charlie and how much he has benefited from services, and how well he is doing in his development. Ray and I walked away feeling like "That wasn't bad at all." It was a good set-up for the big meeting next month. I will definitely be baking for that meeting as well!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

It Snowed!

I don't have pictures, but I promise, it really did snow yesterday! All the surrounding hills are covered in white. It did not stick in town, but it sure was coming down. Big, wet, fast-falling flakes. It has been cold here! (Relatively, that is)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Reece's Rainbow Angel Tree

Angel Tree


Reece's Rainbow is a non-profit organization that works to advocate for orphans who have Down Syndrome. In our country children who are born with Down Syndrome are cherished. Dare I say coveted. There are waiting lists to adopt babies with Down Syndrome in the United States. Families who have children with Down Syndrome have many supports. There are entire books of laws to protect and advocate for people with disabilities, ensuring they are integrated into society in every way possible, from babyhood through adulthood.

Babies born with Down Syndrome in many other countries around the world are not so fortunate. They face discrimination and rejection from the start. Parents are encouraged to give their disabled child up for adoption. It is just what people do. In some counties when a child with Down Syndrome turns 4 years old, they are removed from the orphanage and sent to mental institutions, never to be available for adoption again. Living in the baby-homes (orphanages), the children lack the important services that could help them to reach their full potential. Most importantly, they lack the love and care of a family. We all need a family.

Reece's Rainbow exists to promote the adoption of children with Down Syndrome from overseas. I've met a few families on-line who have been helped by this amazing organization, and now have their beautiful sons and daughters home with them.

The Cornish Family adopted Emma and Micah
The Balsis Family recently brought home their daughter Nika
The Powell's are waiting on their sweet baby Reese

Every Christmas Reece's Rainbow hosts The Angel Tree Project to raise money and awareness for all the beautiful children available for adoption. When you donate more than $35 to sponsor a child by the 15th of this month (Just 4 days away! Hurry!), you will receive a Christmas ornament with the picture of your child on it. Each of our boys will be getting one of these precious ornaments in their Christmas stocking.

We chose to sponsor "Avery" and "Nikita." Who will you choose to bless this Christmas?

Monday, December 8, 2008

Christmas Tree Hunting

On Saturday our family went to Horse Mountain with Uncle Russ and Auntie Renee, and Uncle Ryan and his girlfriend Cassie and her family. We went to go hunt down a Christmas tree! We chose a cute little silver tip fur that we have situated on top of the entertainment center armoire.

Here we are with our tree.
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We had a picnic by the road-side in a sunny spot.
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Okay, I don't know what I think about these sunglasses. Looks pretty wiley.
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Saturday, December 6, 2008

Being a kid

There's just nothing like being a kid. Experiencing everything fresh and taking things for face value. Here is a fun story from my childhood:

One of the highlights of visiting my Grandma in Santa Cruz was that she kept a jar of peanut butter that had the stripes of jam mixed in. My sister and I always looked forward to a lunch with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich made with this special concoction.

Like many kids, I left a pile of bread crusts on my plate when I finished my sandwich. I'm just not a crust eater. They are tough and dry and don't taste as nice. Well, in an attempt to get me to finish all my food, Grandma told me that the crust is where all the good vitamins were. And... it didn't work. I believed her all right, but at my young age I could care less about vitamins (what ever they were!).

A few short years later, when I was a teenager and started to care about things like vitamin intake and healthy eating, guess what I started to do... Eat my bread crusts! After all, they are a jackpot of nutrition, right? I did this until about my fourth year of college (which was still my freshman year, but that is another story), when I sat at the table eating a sandwich and began to think about vitamins and bread and how-in-the-heck-can-there-possibly-be-more-vitamins-in-the-crust? Ha! I'd been dooped! It was just one of those things I was told as a child and simply believed.

And if you are wondering, I do not currently partake of the crust of my sandwich, even though Ray chides me for missing out on important nutrition. I know better, now. ;-)

Sunday, November 30, 2008

These Boys

What could I possibly say
within the lines of a poem
to express just how
these two little boys
make me feel?

Charlie.
Aw, Charlie.
He is an angel,
you know.

If I think about it,
and close my eyes tight,
I can smell the way he smelled
in those newborn days.

His scent,
his gaze,
his entire being,
is soft and comforting.

To look into his eyes
and catch his mischief;
there's nothing like it
in all the world

Then there is Calvin,
dear, dear little Calvin:

Bright, big eyes,
fresh curiousity,
infectious delight.

There is not a shortage of people
who await with eagerness
the chance to make our sweet little Calvin laugh.

I must be the luckiest woman on earth
to awake each day to his
toothy grin and wet kisses.

These boys,
they are my heart.
How can I possibly with words
distill the gift they are to me?

A little mommy
with big gratitude.

Monday, November 24, 2008

IEP Update

I had a really great meeting with Charlie's infant teacher and services coordinator last Friday. We met informally to discuss preschool options.

Charlie's teacher and services coordinator are both so impressed with Charlie. They've seen him in action, and know that he is a capable, beautiful child. His infant teacher has been to the Children's Center many times to visit Charlie. She knows he is thriving in that environment.

Charlie's services coordinator has been so good to us these last 3 years. She has supported us in getting services for Charlie that generally hadn't been started at his young age. I asked for these services because I thought they would benefit Charlie to start as young as possible, and he has done wonderfully.

I am so thankful for these two women!

In our meeting I shared my concern that Charlie needs interaction with his typically developing peers. My desire is for him to stay at the Children's Center with his friends. After a lot of thought and discussion, Ray and I also decided Charlie probably needs the intensive program at the Special Ed preschool as well. The intensive instruction will help him keep up with his friends when he gets to the preschool class next fall, which has a faster pace and a greater child to teacher ratio. So...

The plan for the IEP meeting next month is to ask for Charlie to attend Special Ed preschool 2 days a week (1/2 days to start out), and Children's Center 2 days a week and increasing to 3 days a week when he starts preschool class in the fall.

Ray and I are feeling really good about this set-up. Charlie's teacher and services coordinator also think this would be a great combination for Charlie. I am confident that this plan has the heart of the IDEA act at it's core. It gives Charlie the intensive instruction he needs to make big steps developmentally, and it includes him in his natural environment with his non-disabled friends.

Oh and this plan comes with a bonus: Charlie will get to ride a school bus to Special Ed preschool in the mornings (which makes me feel a little nervous, but I know Charlie will think it is the coolest thing ever!).

I am so grateful Charlie's teacher and Coordinator are willing to come to extra meetings just for me (and Charlie). This meeting was not a requirement, but they care for our family and want to work with us to find a good solution for Charlie's education.

It is unseen what the School Administrators will think of our plan. Our hope is that they will say, "Hey, that is a great idea. Let's do it." But regardless, I feel confident having so many people coming to the IEP who agree that Charlie needs to be with his non-disabled peers as much as possible to benefit from his overall educational experience.

I am breathing. In and out. We will make it through this, and Charlie, well, he will soar. I am confident in that.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

He's got dibs

If there is one thing that Charlie looks forward to it is vacuuming! He loves it when mama whips out the vacuum. Charlie likes to help out in any way he can, so when I get out my vacuum, he usually gets his "vacuum" out as well. When the boys are old enough to help with housecleaning chores, Charlie's definitely got dibs on the vacuuming job!

Look at that form and technique, not to mention the spiffy sweat suit.
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Monday, November 17, 2008

Speaking of Cute...

I am reminded of a Charlie story.

My friend Katie and I were shopping together at the CO-OP. Charlie was about 3 or 4 months old. I has holding him with his tummy facing me, and his little chin perched on my shoulder looking back.

We were in the produce section the first time we saw him. A scruffy old fellow. Grey hair, full beard, rough hands. My impression was that he was a fisherman, or perhaps a boat maker. Something marine. He was very weathered.

Now, Charlie has a gift. It is Down Syndrome, and it takes people by surprise. He is so charming, so cute, and yet, he has Down Syndrome?? It catches people off guard. Flies in the face of many stereotypes. I especially think this is true of babies with Down Syndrome.

The first time we saw the old scruffy fisherman, he paused what he was doing (thumping melons?) to admire Charlie. He waved to Charlie, and smiled.

The second time we saw him was in the bulk foods area. We were walking past each other in the isle, and he again paused to say 'hi' to Charlie, who smiled for him.

The third time we saw him, we were in front of the diary case. This time he didn't pause, didn't wave 'hi' (I mean, after crossing paths three times in the grocery, it feels a little awkward, doesn't it?). No. This time he just smiled as he walked past. As we parted ways this final time, I heard him mutter to himself in his rough voice:

"That's the cutest damn baby I've ever seen."

Hey, old fisherman fellow... I couldn't agree more.

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Friday, November 14, 2008

So cute

If you have a mommy in your life who you want to make feel really, really good, I will tell you how:

First, flirt with her darling little baby for a while. Make him smile. Make him giggle and laugh. Ooo and ah over his dimples, his shy little glances, his chubby little face and neck. Then, look at his mommy and say something like this:

"Your baby is the cutest baby I've ever met," you might add, "I'm not just saying that to be nice."

That ought to send her over the moon for a while. Yep. I think that should do it. ;)

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

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I tell Calvin to enjoy it. This is the only time in his life that he can have thighs like that and everyone will think it is cute!

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Yard

One of the best things about our new house is the awesome, ultra kid-friendly yard. Our landlord, Jo, keeps the grass short and lovely, and the Humboldt weather keeps it nice and green. Here are a couple photos of the boys enjoying our beautiful little yard.

Little Calvin enjoying some sunshine. He doesn't stay on that blanket for long!
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My happy boy, running free.
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Charlie on his "ip" (Rocket Ship).
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Saturday, November 8, 2008

He Clapped!

Calvin learned to clap last night, and he could not be more pleased with himself. It is so cute. He stops what he is doing to clap at every chance he gets. And, if one of his hands is busy, no matter, he just claps the air with the other one!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Eating Simple

I don't consider myself a 'good' cook. I'm good at following instructions--which is how I learned to knit, sew, play the bass, and spin wool--so I'm able to whip up a scrumptious dish when I need to. For everyday eating, we have a pretty simple Menu.

To make it on to our family menu rotation, a recipe has to have ingredients that are easy to keep around on a regular basis. The ingredients need to be wholesome, and inexpensive. The recipe can't have too many crazy steps. It is less important how long something takes to cook, as it is how involved the cook needs to be. We love finding different ways to use our crock pot and dutch oven!

Anyway, I would love it if some of you who read my blog would share your favorite simple recipes with me. Here is a favorite of ours:

Mom's Spinach Lentil Soup:

1 onion
8 cups Chicken or Veggie Broth
1 pound Lentils (the brownish green kind)
2 packages frozen chopped spinach (fresh works well too, about 4 cups fresh chopped)
salt and pepper to taste
shredded cheddar cheese

First I have to say I typed out these ingredients by heart. There are only six ingredients and 3 steps to the recipe. The ingredients are pretty cheep, and easy to keep around. A definite winner. (Thanks Mom!)

Saute the chopped up onion in the soup pot. Add the broth and and rinsed lentils. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 45 minutes. Add the spinach and spices. Let is cook for another ten minutes. Serve with shredded cheese on top. It is so good!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Bedtime

Whew! What an evening. I always put the kids to bed by myself on Thursday's because Ray has Worship team practice. Tonight was one of those nights that when Ray was walking out the door at 7 I am sure he was thinking "Glad it's her and not me!"

Calvin couldn't decide if he was ready to play, sleep, or just cry. Charlie was running around the house leaving his clothing here and there, becoming ever more naked.

Teeth were not brushed, diapers were yet to be changed, jammies were no where to be found.

It is now 8, and not a peep can be heard from either of my sleeping angels. Ah! I feel Super!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Back

Boy, it seems like it has been a while. We are loving our new home, and were able to get our DSL up and running this last week. The boys are all settled in here, in fact, they never seemed to skip a beat.

Charlie is in a big boy bed (Twin mattress on the floor), and doing very well in it. We are enjoying the fact that we can curl up in Charlie's bed with him for a few minutes in the morning. It's a real treat.

Calvin is crawling all over the place. It seems he has a little radar for where I am, and crawls after me to keep me company. He just amazes us with his growth and development. He had only been crawling for 3 or 4 days when he decided to try to stand up. He hasn't mastered that by any means, but he is working just as hard as he can to catch up with his big brother. Really, he's only got about 5 pounds and 5 inches until he catches up in size. He just seems to motor through all the stages and sizes. It seems hard to keep up with him!

Charlie is loving the fact the Calvin is big enough to play with him. He loves to try to include the baby in his schemes. It is really fun to watch Calvin watch Charlie, trying to figure out what he is doing.

We have so many pictures and stories from the last 3 weeks. A lot of catch up we need to do on the blog. I will work on it when I can, but have been so busy. Despite the small size of our cute little home, we still have some boxes that need to be unpacked, and the kitchen needs to be rearranged.

Anyway, just a quick update. I hope everyone is well.
Love,
Kim

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

He Crawled!

Calvin crawled today! What a feat! He has been getting up on his hands and knees for just about a week, and today he actually put it all together and started crawling! It is pretty awkward just yet. He does it when there is something in front of him that he really, really wants. He starts out crawling toward what he wants, and when he gets close enough, he dives for it. He is 7 months and 1 day old. Seems so young. Charlie was 14 months when he started to crawl, and up until that point was quite happy to sit in one place. Calvin on the other hand, well, he has wanted to get moving ever since he was old enough to start playing with toys and interacting with his environment. I think we are going to have our hands full very soon!

I will post pictures and some video as soon as I can, but for the moment we are accessing the internet through dial-up, so will have to wait until next week to upload larger files. (Hopefully the phone company will get our DSL up and running by then... or so they say.)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

All moved in

Well, we did it! We are all moved in to our new little house. And we love it!

The move went exceptionally well. We had a lot of help, and managed to get the house packed up last Friday night, and all our stuff moved to the new place on Saturday. The garage has a small mountain of boxes we've yet to weed through, but the kids room and living room are done, and the kitchen is very close. Our new washer and dryer are in place, the fridge is stocked, we are up and running! Except one thing...

We are apparently in the black hole for DSL coverage in town! Ugh! We moved in expecting it to transfer no problem, but when it never came on, I called the company to find out that, despite our neighborhood being smack in the middle of town, there is no DSL available in our area. Bummer. So today the boys and I are down at the coffee shop enjoying a muffin and smoothie, and checking e-mail and updating the blog. Hopefully we will find some sort of service for a good price.

There is so much to tell, and so many pictures to show you, but for now I need to go. The boys only do the coffee shop thing for so long.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Moving!

We are moving... in two days!

We have been looking all summer for the perfect little place to rent. And, we found it. It is in a great neighborhood in town, on a dead end street. A tiny little two bedroom house, almost a cottage, but it has a garage with laundry hook-ups. We have been packing and cleaning all week, and plan to have a pizza party tomorrow with family who will help us pack some more and load our furniture into Uncle Ryan's trailer. On Saturday a bunch of friends from church will be joining us to move all our stuff. It is nice that we are only moving about 2 miles away. It will make things a little easier I hope.

The cottage is rented by a very sweet couple who live right next door. It has a fenced in yard, perfect for the kids. We will be having to pair down our belongings significantly, but have been meaning to anyway. It is the perfect opportunity to "de-stuff-ify" a bit. The house is a short walk to a park, it is on the bike path that leads to church, and is just around the corner from the elementary school. It seems like a very sweet place, and we are very excited to move in.

I will post pictures as soon as I can, but our internet will be off until next Wednesday, so... I'll say bye until then.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Messy House

Messy House
it's not that I'm
ignoring you

I see you,
I feel you,
more than I let on

Messy House
I can hear you
whisper, beckon, shout my name

But I ask you:
What is a house wife to do?

I comfort babies at night
I run after toddlers by day
And, in the evening
when the children have drifted off to sleep
it's just you and me.

Messy House,
you are a mountain to be scaled
at 9pm when my body is heavy

I want you to be tidy
I long for womanly perfection

Messy House
your dishes and laundry
bury me in guilt.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

2008 Buddy Walk

Saturday was our third year at the Buddy Walk! We had a great time. Many friends and family came out to help celebrate Charlie, and all our friends in the community who have Down Syndrome. This was the first year Charlie was able to walk at the Buddy Walk. This was also my first year helping out. I had called the event organizer to ask if we could help with set-up or tear-down, and instead she asked me to share a few encouraging words about Charlie! I will admit, I was a bit nervous, but really, sharing about my kids comes WAY to easy to me!LOL I could go on and on. This is in essence what I shared with the crowd:

Charlie was 2 months old when we learned he had Down Syndrome. I remember the doctor telling me the diagnosis over the phone. I asked him, "what do we do now?" His answer was, "Just keep doing what you are doing." And, that is what we did.

Charlie is a natural part of our community. He fits right in. He has many friends in preschool and playgroup. When we walk into his classroom, many of the children go out of their way to great Charlie. When we are in the supermarket, the checkers know him by name, and they know he gets to be in charge of the receipt. At church, people stop what they are doing to come over and say "hi" to Charlie and Calvin. Charlie is able to define his relationships with other, and he is accepted just for who he is.

When my husband and I found out Charlie had Down Syndrome, we were a little scared. It is Charlie who has shown us that everything is just right they way it is.


Here are a few photo's we snapped at this year's event:

Here is an overwhelmed Charlie. There are FAR to many people at the Buddy Walk for his comfort level. Oh well, by the end he is always having a good time!
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Walking with Mommy and Daddy.
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Charlie and his sweet little friend Brooke.
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And just for kicks, here is Brooke and Charlie last year.
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And here is Charlie in 2006 at our first Buddy Walk. Boy, we just can't get a smile out of him at these events.
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Thank You to our friends and family who came out to support us and to celebrate Charlie. God made Charlie just the way he is, and he is perfect.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Healthy, Busy, Happy

Well, we are all healthy again. Finally. Boy, if it wasn't Calvin feeling crummy, it was me. We kept trading off sickness for about 3 weeks, but I think we are past all the yuckyness now. In the mean time, we kept ourselves way too busy.

A week and a half ago we had a pre-transition meeting for Charlie. When kids with special needs turn 3, their therapies and services get all switched around. In fact, turning 3 is a BIG deal for a little guy with Down Syndrome. In the next several months we have many Developmental Assessments to schedule (Bailey Developmental Assessment, OT assessment, Speech, Gross Motor, Oral Motor ), and quite a few routine exams to do (eyes, ears, body, neck x-ray, blood work, possibly a sleep study, and a swallow study). All this information will be compiled and will help us to make some very important decisions: Where will we send Charlie to preschool (special ed preschool, regular preschool, regular preschool plus an aid to help him...); What type of therapy does Charlie still need and how much; What type of additional services would benefit him... It is all feeling like a little bit much. I mean, isn't Charlie just a little kid afterall? Oh well, we charge ahead.

My birthday was last Friday. I had a fever, again, but we managed to have a little fun. We went out to a noodle house I love, and had beautiful cold noodle salads. Then we went to pick up a bike trailer I found on Craigs List (a real score).

Saturday we had a honest-to-goodness b-day bash with family. Not only was it my b-day (observed), but it was Calvin's 6 month old b-day. We went out to a fancy restaurant. (Well, not too fancy. We did have the kids with us!) Then we all came back to the house for cake and a sporting game of Yatzee. (Word to the wise, avoid uncle Russell if you ever want a chance of winning at Yatzee. He got two of them!)

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I'm 28 years old. You know if you would have told me when I moved to the North Coast what my life would be like in seven years, I would be blown away. A steadfast, fun, amazing husband (who took the kids so I could sleep until 10am on Saturday!!), two beautiful sons (the cutest kids ever!), Down Syndrome (a path I had never considered, but am so thankful for), a wonderful community and town that I live in, the opportunity to stay at home to watch these two spunky boys grow... My life is beautiful. I am thankful.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Culprit

Calvin has a double ear infection. He is actually feeling much better today after two days of antibiotics. No more fever, back to his playful, smiley little self. I feel so bad that he went the whole weekend without any relief. I had assumed his fever was due to a virus because I had come down with a fever of the same grad on the same day as he. Mine went away within 48 hours, his hung on. Now we know why.

Little piece of family trivia: Charlie has never had an ear infection, and in fact has never taken antibiotics. This is my first time treating an ear infection as a mom.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Sick

100.6 to 101.9 fever for four days + no other symptoms at all (well except cold hand and feet) = What?? Our little Calvin has really had a rotten couple of days. We have a doc appointment this afternoon, so we'll see if we can figure this out.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Sitting, Rolling, and Giving His Opinion

My Calvin really is just the most darling baby you ever did see.

A little story: We were sitting on the couch in our church/coffee shop (it's 2 in 1) after the service last Sunday. Calvin was perched on my knee, chewing his hands. A customer walked in and happened to look our direction. Calvin first looked at her like this

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and then did something like this

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The woman, who looked pretty tough with tattoos and piercings all over, put her hand to her chest and just sighed. "Wow, you really made the rest of my day," were he words to Mr. Friendly.

Yep, that's our Calvin.

When people describe him they use words like: intent, smiley, focused, social, chubba-wubba, happy, and always good for a laugh.

I am just so amazed by him. I could watch him all day long. Just 5 1/2 months olds and he already has preferences for certain toys in the toy basket. He loves to sit on a blanket in the living room (pillows all around, he's a little tippy just yet) and go through the toy basket one toy at a time, pausing to play with his 'favorites'.

He rolled over for the first time last week, and rolled over for the second time this afternoon.

He's a screamer. He squeals, sighs, screeches. It is really so cute to hear this high pitched little voice coming from our big, big baby boy.

Did I mention he is wearing 9-12 month clothing already? Last night we ran out of clean jammies for him, so he wore Charlie's stuff. It fit pretty decent.

Oh, and he got his first tooth yesterday afternoon. It is on the bottom, center. The one on the right. What a busy guy!

Man, I just love this little fella.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Shiner

It's already been a week since the incident, but here is a picture of Calvin's little shiner he got from that nasty old bee. I took this picture a couple hours after it happened. It was his left eye. You can't even see any redness because of the lighting. And the smile, well, obviously he wasn't holding any grudge.

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And here's a picture of Charlie getting in on the action. Got Yogurt?

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Friday, August 22, 2008

Bee Sting

Calvin, Charlie, and I were out running errands today. After an unsuccessful hunt to find Charlie a pair of shoes for school, I decided we should go out for a smoothie together. We arrived at our coffee shop. As I was putting Calvin in the baby back pack he started crying. I began to pat his back to console him thinking he was just getting tired of making so many stops. Our friend, Jen, who works at the shop noticed there was a bug on his face. I looked down to see a nasty yellow jacket in the process of stinging him next to his eye! Of course my mommy instinct kicked in and I manically swatted the mean old bug away. I think I killed it (with my bare hands!). Poor Calvin.

Instantly, the right side of his face turned red and started to swell up. Jen found some topical insect bite 'stuff' in the first aid kit at the shop. We applied the 'stuff' while another friend called the pediatrician to ask about giving him an antihistamine. By the time we had things under control (calmed Calvin down, formed a game plan) we had gathered a small crowd of 5 concerned women and 1 hovering little girl.

In the end, my sturdy little Calvin is just fine. He took a brief nap, after which he decided the best thing to do was go on as if the incident had never happened. Ata boy, Calvin. He has a nice little shiner to show for his bravery.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Then and Now

There is a photo
tacked up in my room

It is a picture of
the first moment I laid my eyes on you

You were tiny
a naked bundle
I held you in my hands
my mind was so far away

I wondered
what does this mean
to hold this tiny little guy

You were fresh to the world
Fresh and beautiful
naked, tiny, wet

I think it amazing
where we started
where we are

This path I have walked with you
It is not what I expected

When I huddle in bed in the mornings
I hear your feet plod across the wood floor

I open my eyes
to see your gleaming face
giggling, plodding, kissing my cheek

Fresh to the world
everyday is amazing
with you

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Thank You Ben

You know, when I first heard about Tropic Thunder (the movie) I was, umm, utterly bummed-out. The movie is a comedy, and makes fun of Hollywood actors. The film, I hear (no, I don't plan seeing this flick), contains material that may be insulting to African Americans, Veterans, and people with intellectual disabilities. Apparently the movie makers consulted with African American and Veteran groups to make sure the so called 'comedic' material was not too offensive. Unfortunately, the film makers failed to include representatives for people with intellectual disabilities. (Feeling lost? Learn more about this controversial movie here and here.)

Why the oversight? I believe it is because in America it is still 'ok' to make fun of people with intellectual disabilities. We've come a long way from routine institutionalization of children born with disabilities, but the fact is adults and children with intellectual disabilities are still made fun of, victimized, taunted.

Tropic Thunder, while damaging (and tasteless), is serving as a catalyst to bring the shameful treatment of people with intellectual (and other) disabilities to light. In the wake of this movie there has sprung up efforts and websites to ban the r-word. You know, Retard.

The R-word means a couple of things. In music retard means to slow down the tempo. Mental Retardation is a medical diagnosis that basically means a persons ability to learn is slowed down. Retard when used as a joke between friends, as a taunt to an offender, or in a (really stupid) movie is meant as an insult. Usually when people blurt out something like "You are such a retard!" what they intend to communicate is "You are being stupid." People don't think about how using the word retard dehumanizes people with intellectual disabilities. And, people don't think about how a 'funny' scene in a movie makes it that much easier for children, teens, and adults to taunt their differently abled colleagues in the hallways at school or out in the community. After all, they are just retards.

My dear sweet Charlie has mental retardation. It is something that he has, but it is not the sum of who he is. He is not a retard.

So, thank you, Ben Stiller, for bringing this issue to the light so clearly (and tastelessly). I hope this publicity will continue to spur on the movement to ban the r-word. It is not the word that is a problem. Intellectual disability, mental retardation... It is not the label that is the problem. Call it whatever you want, it is what it is. It is the derogatory use of the r-word that has made it hateful to use. You can join the effort to make a positive change for our friends and neighbors with intellectual disabilities by visiting this web site, or by clicking on the "Change the Conversation" button in the side bare.

Oh, and just to keep it real, I used to use the r-word before I had Charlie. I never meant it in a mean way. I never really thought about how it could be hurtful or demeaning, but ignorance does not mean innocence. Let's make a positive change for Charlie's future. Let's change the way we make conversation.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Brothers

One of the coolest things I get to do as a mom is watch the sweet relationship bud between two brothers. Calvin just loves Charlie. He loves to watch Charlie's every move. Charlie likes to make Calvin smile and laugh. He likes to give Calvin kisses and hugs. He brings Calvin stuffed animals and baby toys. We are working very hard on the concepts of being gentle and giving the baby some personal space (i.e. not sitting on the baby). Calvin is such a good sport about Charlie being a little to rough at times still, and only cries if he is actually hurt.

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Thursday, August 14, 2008

A Friend

She is amazing
A true friend
of the best kind

I remember the first time I saw her
She was pregnant
She wore a brown wool sweater
tight around her belly

I was also pregnant
Pregnant and in need
of a true friend

I soon learned to treasure
her presence, her care
her home made bread
and simple life

We got to know one another
at the pool
Two pregnant women bobbing up and down
in the cool water

We walked together
Babies strapped to our backs
She is amazing
I miss her

True friend

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Charlie and the X-Ray Machine

Charlie did something to his arm/hand/wrist. We are not sure what he did, but it is quite obviously injured. Actually, for a week he has been gingerly grabbing his left arm from time to time, and has even been giving it kisses. Yesterday, it became very clear that his left arm or wrist was painful. He was crying a lot and wounldn't let me touch it. He stopped using it (which is really unusual as he is left handed). He even told me it hurt! He touched his arm and said "hurt." I had to smile as this is the first time he has articulated to us that something specific was hurting him.

I took him to the doctor today to check it out. Before and after our visit if I so much as brushed the skin on his arm he would cry, but of course while we were at the doctor he did no even wince as the NP poked and prodded his arm and hand. Figures. Well, I asked for an X-ray anyway, as we know Charlie has a high pain tolerance. So off we went to the hospital.

I think the x-ray was the highlight of the day. Even better than the Thomas the Tank Engine stickers he got at the doctors office. We were taken back to the room with the x-ray machine, and there was so much cool stuff to look at. Lots of cords hanging from the ceiling, cool aprons, and the x-ray machine itself. Charlie was enthralled. I told him the x-ray machine was like a big camera. He kept looking up at it and saying "cheese!" He was a really good boy about keeping his arm still for the pictures. When we were back in the waiting room after we finished he tried to escape back down the hall to find the 'big camera.'

I haven't heard the results of the x-ray yet. Charlie actually started using his arm again just like normal this evening, so I don't know what the deal is. I'm thinking it's not broken. Beats me.

Blueberry Patch

Last week at our Friday Mommy's group we went to a local Blueberry Farm to pick berries with the kids. Charlie, Calvin, and I had a great time with Nana and the rest of the kids and mom's from our group. And, we enjoyed blueberry pancakes for dinner!

Charlie checking things out.
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Fiona feeding Charlie blueberries. He was lovin' that!
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Love this photo. Look at those beautiful berries!
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Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Thinking it over

I don't know what brought it to mind, but today I was thinking about Charlie's 2 month Well Baby Exam. It was at this appointment where Charlie's doctor first suspected that Charlie had Down Syndrome. As I recalled the memory I found myself smiling about the words Dr. H said to me "Charlie has some of the signs of a baby with Down Syndrome." I can remember looking into Charlie's beautiful face in that moment with so much question. I was struck today with just how fondly I now think of that appointment, where originally I felt so confused and fear-filled.

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Down Syndrome is an amazing gift. I really do believe that. I feel it every day. From time to time people tell me about a baby that was just born with Down Syndrome, or about a mom whose prenatal tests show her baby might have Down Syndrome. Before Charlie I would have reacted with concern, and while I do feel deeply for the parents as I have felt that original pain, I now smile to myself when I hear such news.

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A few minutes ago Charlie and I were sitting on the living room floor together watching an episode of Thomas and Friends. He had his chubby little arm around my neck, excitedly repeating "choo-choo" as the little trains flashed by on the screen. I just can't think of any place I'd rather be.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Prayers for Emma


We are praying hard for Emma. Please join us.

She is 5 years old, recently adopted from Eastern Europe. She will be having open heart surgery on Monday to repair a heart defect. Specifically pray that she is able to come off of the bypass and vent machines without any hitches.

Visit the Cornish family blogto read more about Emma.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Calvin 4 Month Cuteness

Calvin had his 4 month appointment last week. Here are the stats:

Weight - 100+ percentile (18#10oz)

Height - 50th percentile (25.5")

Cuteness - at least 150%

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One Post Away

Wow, just realized I'm one post away from 100 posts! Blogging has been so much fun. I guess some moms make scrap books and others blog! I never did have enough patience for scrap-booking, although I'm determined to make each of my boys a baby book!

Anyway, I've been MIA lately, and it's not for lack of something to write about. Calvin had a check-up, Charlie had his last day of 'school' for the summer session, Uncle Russ is getting married this weekend, Nana and Papa are up, we are apartment hunting... Man, things are really hopping around here! I will soon fill you in on all our excitement. Now if I could just get a few minutes to myself without falling asleep!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Five Years

My dear Raymond,

Has it only been 5 years? It seems as if you've always been a part of me. These five years have been incredible. Together we've received 2 B.A.'s and 2 minors, we've helped start a coffee shop, and lived with 3 different roommates. We've had 2 children, and we've learned about and fallen in love with Down Syndrome. I've knitted you one hat and 3/4 of a sweater. You've built me one shelf, one night stand, and 1/4 of a coat rack. We've aquired many instruments, a tortoise, and about a thousand toys. We continue to sing together everyday, and laugh as much as we can. Wow! I wonder what the next five years hold.

You are my best friend!

Your Kimberly

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

An Invitation for You (Yes, YOU!)

Guess what I just got in the mail?... Can't guess? I'll give you a hint: It is far better than a million dollars... Still can't guess? OK, I'll tell ya:

A couple weeks ago we signed up to be a Prayer Warrior for a child awaiting adoption through Reeces Rainbow Adoption Ministry. Today in the mail we received a letter from Reeces Rainbow and a photograph of the most beautiful 4 year old boy you ever did see. I can't share his information, but to tell you he has Down Syndrome, and is desperately needing a family to adopt him. Looking at his beautiful face took my breath away. If only we had the means, we would fly to his country right now, gather him in our arms and welcome him into our home. For now, we will do something else for this little guy. We will pray for him every day until he gets adopted into the Forever Family God has ordained for him.

I want to invite you to join in this ministry. I want to invite you to become a Prayer Warrior along with my family. If you have been at all touched by Down Syndrome, and if you believe that God hears our prayers and performs miracles every day, then you can have a powerful impact on the life of an orphan with Down Syndrome.

In the United States there are waiting lists to adopt children with Down Syndrome. And even then, most people who have a baby with Down Syndrome choose to raise their child instead of giving it up for adoption. In some countries babies with Down Syndrome are not wanted by their parents or by their societies. They are sent to orphanages where they are rarely adopted. Unfortunately, in some of these countries children with Down Syndrome who have not been adopted by the time they are 5 are then sent to institutions where they are poorly cared for and often die within months of arrival.

As a parent of a child with Down Syndrome, I shudder to think of the cold reality so many children like my son face. But you know what? God sees each one of these precious children. He knows each of their names. He loves them. We may not all be able to pursue international adoption, but we can all pray. We can pray for kind people in the orphanages to give these darling, precious children extra hugs and food. We can pray for the families who are hoping to adopt. We can pray for the governments and societies of the countries to open their hearts, their funds, and their homes so children with Down Syndrome will be welcomed.

Does this sound like something you can do with me? If so, signing up is easy. All you need to do is contact Kelly Shamsey of Reece's Rainbow Prayer Warriors Outreach Ministry. She will match you up with a child to pray for. You will receive in the mail a photograph of your child with their name and age, and a bookmark and magnet to remind you to pray everyday. I am convinced that God hears our hearts, and that God can move mountains. It is no small thing to pray for an orphan. Please join with me.

Kelly's e-mail:
kshamsey@verizon.net

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Nana and Papa's visit

Nana and Papa came to visit, and it was so fun! Charlie and Calvin both had a great time playing with Papa and Nana. Mommy and Daddy really appreciated the extra help. My parents are the most excellent house guests you ever did know. My mom helped me with many projects while they were here. She even did all my sewing I needed to do. Thanks mom! Here are a couple of photos of their time with the boys.

Nana reading to Charlie.
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Papa and Calvin.
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One special thing we did while Nana and Papa were in town was to dedicate Calvin at church. In our faith we don't baptize babies. In fact, a baby dedication is more for the parents and the congregation than the baby. In a baby dedication the parents and the congregation commit to raising the child in the gentle love and protection of Jesus. We pledge to raise Calvin up in the ways of Christ, and to value his life as Jesus did for 'the least of these.' It was a special moment, and brought back memories of Charlie's dedication two years ago.

Calvin's Dedication
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A sweet moment.
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After the service:
My folks, Ray's folks, us, and my sister-in-law-to-be Renee.
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Monday, July 7, 2008

Stitches

Today Charlie had stitches in his chin. It was his and my first time. Ouch!

It started with a call from my mother-in-law. The Children's Center called her (I don't have a cell phone) to tell her Charlie had fallen and split his chin open, and they couldn't get a hold of me at home. Well, Grandma has a pretty good pulse on where I am during the week, and she tracked me down. Boy, I'll tell you my blood pressure shot through the roof when she told me the Children's Center wanted me to come pick-up Charlie because they thought he needed stitches. That mommy adrenaline is really powerful!

When I got to the center, Charlie was quietly sitting on the lap of one of the teacher with a gauze and cold pack on his chin. He had apparently tripped over the edge of the slide while walking around on the play ground, and face planted into the wood chips. His chin just popped right open from the hard fall. I was pretty sure we were going to need stitches. It was yucky. From the center I called the Doctor's office and asked if a nurse could just take a quick look to confirm we needed stitches. They said sure thing, so off we went.

The nurse came out, took a quick look and invited us back to an exam room for Dr. H to take a look. I was thinking Dr. H would come in, look at it, tell us 'yes it needs stitches, go to the ER.' I was surprised when he said, 'yes it needs stitches, wait here while I get my supplies.' What a great Dr. to take time to fix Charlie up right in the office. It was so nice not to have to haul both kids to the ER and endure the wait. Instead, the whole ordeal was very short. I picked Charlie up at 11:15, and we were home eating lunch by 1pm.

So, there we were in the office, Charlie in my lap, a nurse holding down his hands, a med student holding his head, and Dr. H repairing his split chin. He was such a brave boy--he was kicking and screaming, but so brave none-the-less. Calvin was in his car seat, also kicking and screaming... Don't know what his problem was. I mean, his day was going pretty well comparatively! Halfway through the procedure, I started getting light headed. I had been doing really well--a very brave mommy--until I got curious and watched Dr. H do a stitch. I am a fainter, so I alerted the group, and we moved Charlie onto the exam table for the last 2 stitches and I put my head down.

All together Charlie has 5 stitches in his chin, and I have a whopping head ache from the swing in my blood pressure! The good part of all this: The orange Mickey Mouse balloon the nurse gave him that seemed to make the whole trip worth it for Charlie. He grabbed onto that thing as if it were a teddy bear, and held it very dearly all the way home.

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Sunday, July 6, 2008

Bonding

I can't tell you how relieved I was when a mother of four grown boys and grandmother of many told me it always took her at least three months after each of her boys was born to feel like a normal person again. Calvin was about 2 months at the time, and I was just beginning to feel like 'I can do this.' The first few weeks were tough. Many factors contributed of course: hormones, sleep deprivation, the huge physical demand of caring for a pre-walking toddler and a completely dependent infant... But there was one factor I had not counted on: having a non-special needs baby.

Charlie was our first baby. We really did not see what the big deal was about him having Down Syndrome. I mean heck, he was not all that different than other babies. Maybe he was a bit slower to do things, but he was by far the cutest kid around! (am I a little biased?) I think in many ways our lack of experience with typically developing babies helped us to move on after learning that Charlie has Down Syndrome. We did not have the burden of comparing him to an older sibling.

When Calvin was born, all of a sudden I began to see some difference in Charlie. I remember Ray and I would make remarks like "Charlie never did that," or "Can you believe Calvin is already communicating so clearly." Perhaps every mother goes through the pain of having to re-define her relationship with her first born when another sibling comes along. I did, but I also found myself having to reorient myself with Down Syndrome. It was like all of a sudden I saw what the big deal was, and I had to re-decide that I was ok with it. I wrestled with this a lot.

Calvin is nearly 4 months old now, and I feel like we've really found our groove. I feel a deep bond and understanding with my sweet baby boy. I feel like Charlie and I have once again fallen in step with each other. And last, I feel okay with Down Syndrome again. I think my patience has grown for Charlie. Having Calvin has illuminated his struggle and determination. I am not only okay with Down Syndrome, but newly amazed. You know, God did not make a mistake when he diverted that extra 21st chromosome toward the cell that would become Charlie. He knew just what he was doing.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Watermark

It's a cruel, cruel world out there. I've started adding a watermark to all the pictures I post on this blog and elsewhere on the internet. The reason? There are folks out there who steal pictures and use them with ill intention other places on the web. By adding a watermark, it makes it difficult for internet thiefs to do their thieving. It's just safer.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Grace

Sometimes my prayer is that the Lord give me the grace to make it through nap time. A couple weeks ago I wrote about what a sweet reprieve nap time can be for a mommy. But what about those nap times when all I seem to do is run from one crib to the next re-settling a cranky baby or toddler? What happens when both kids get tired and just lose-it at the same time. Something has got to give... Ah well, I do my best to get them settled in, never knowing if I am going about it the 'right' way. Both Charlie and Calvin are sleeping now, and I am catching up on paying some bills and finishing some laundry. It's good to sneak in a little blog time too. God give me grace...

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Gift

Sometimes different people will ask if they can hold Charlie, and I get excited. Passing Charlie into the arms of another is to give them a wonderful gift. Charlie gives tender, cuddly hugs. Part of it is his low muscle tone. He has a way of completely relaxing every muscle in his body, draping himself over you like a warm blanket. Part of it is he feels a little shy in the arms of other folks, but instead of pushing away, he settles in and huddles ever so closely. And part of it is his Down Syndrome. It is something that makes him unique, mysterious, attractive. It unnerves people. Here is this precious boy who is a little bit different, and he exudes such tenderness. Every child has a special gift to offer. I really believe that, and can see it in the captivating eyes of my younger "typical" son. For Charlie, it is his hugs. It is therapy of the most gentle and loving sort. A gift.

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Case in point. Charlie, 8 months old.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Me Time

Nap time is not only important for babies and toddlers. Nap time is important for mommies!

It seems like our feet hit the ground running at 7am when we finally get out of bed in the morning (though we've all more than likely been up for 1 or 2 hours already). First it's diapers and nursing for both boys, then clothes. Next we distract Calvin with some toys while quickly shoveling oatmeal into Charlie's hungry tummy. Thank goodness Sesame Street comes on in the morning just after Charlie finishes breakfast. We quickly get ourselves ready while Charlie is occupied with his 'friends' Elmo, and Big Bird, and Cookie Monster, and Ernie. Finally Ray is out the door by 8:30 or 9, and I am stuffing as many random items as I can into the diaper bag for the day. By 9 Charlie, Calvin and I are out the door on our way to any number of our weekly events.

This mothering job is physical! Combined, Charlie and Calvin weigh 44 pounds and counting, and I often end up carrying them both at once. At any one time I have two or three different baby back-packs or slings in the car and at least one of our three strollers. With our huge diaper bag, and baby's in both arms we pop into appointments, hang out at play dates, nurse on the fly, and race around the market. If I'm lucky, I get a peaceful (hah!) walk in sometime during the morning. Lunch is between 11:30 and 12, and by 1 o'clock in the afternoon I lug all of us back into the house for nap time. Whew!

So here I sit. Both boys are actually sleeping at the same time. I haven't heard a peep from either of them in over an hour. The five loads of laundry I need to fold sit jumbled up in the living room waiting. The clean dishes rest right where I left them... in the dishwasher. And as for dinner, well the stove is broken anyway, so I'm not thinking about that! I am resting! I need this me time. It's nice. I don't feel guilty. I do feel greatfull.

Ahhhh...

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Fathers Day, Daddy!!!!

Dear Raymond,

You are a wonderful Father.

As I type this you are walking Calvin to sleep. You are dedicated.

Charlie looks forward to you coming home from work every day. Calvin settles into your arms with so much comfort. You are adored.

You've changed just as many poopy diapers as I have (and lately, maybe more!). You are involved.

Your love for Jesus is the golden thread that makes up the fabric of our precious family. You are a godly man.

Thank you for being an amazing daddy! Happy Fathers Day!

With all my love,
Kimberly

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Saturday, June 14, 2008

3 Months Old!

Calvin turned 3 months old yesterday on Friday the 13th! What a lucky day for us! Calvin is such a wonderful, extraordinary little baby. Really!

Calvin is engaging. He catches your gaze, and you don't want to look away. He smiles at you, looks intently, raising each eyebrow individually. He talks to you with seriousness and coos with glee. We call it "the Calvin experience" and it has captivated our family and friends.

Calvin is holding toys and batting at things. He loves to explore his hands and kick his legs. He knows his mommy and daddy, and gets upset when other people try to hold him. His favorite place to sleep is in mommy or daddy's arms. He is really big (and I mean really, really big--17 pounds!). He is strong, able to withstand all the 'abuse' shoveled out by his 2 year old brother (thank goodness!). Calvin is a joy!

Happy 3 month birthday sweety boy!

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Saturday, June 7, 2008

An interesting circumstance

We live in a town where "pot houses" or "grow houses" are a really big problem. Take a look at this listing for an apartment in our town:

Looking for that perfect live / work space? One bedroom upstairs living area (600 sq ft.) overlooks bird sanctuary and includes wood flooring, skylights .... No smoking, pets or marijuana cultivation.
Must see to appreciate. $1000/ mo.


One of the problems that occurs when a house or apartment was used for growing marijuana is the residual crime that occurs after the tenants are evicted (or jailed). Even though the growers are gone, the house is still prone to break-ins because other "would-be-pot-thiefs" don't know there is no longer marijuana being grown there. Also, marijuana is not regulated, and thus people growing it may use any array of chemicals they want to make it grow faster, bigger, etc. It's not organic! The residue of pesticides and other chemicals and of the pot itself (yes, it has a residue, and of course, a strong scent) may be painted over, but can never really be eliminated. Property management places are not required to disclose whether perspective apartments or houses were used for marijuana cultivation, so renters may be at risk. It is important to inspect a potential living space for signs of cultivation (vents, outlets added in closets, other funky wiring, important to check the attic, scent) before signing any lease. So far in our neighborhood this year there have been 3 busts of houses that were being used for the sole purpose of marijuana cultivation and sale. And we live in a quiet, safe, and small neighborhood! I don't want to be too winey. I really love living on the North Coast. It is beautiful and has so much to offer. I just hope somehow this issue of pot houses will be addressed. There is already a shortage of housing in our town, and it really, um, chaps-my-hide that folks are buying or renting spaces and ruining them by growing pot.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Charlie's Wonderful Ears

I realized today we passed up a very important anniversary for Charlie. We passed up the anniversary of Charlie officially having full hearing!

Before we ever knew Charlie had DS we learned that Charlie had a moderate sensorineural bi-lateral hearing loss. Fancy way of saying he was hard of hearing in both ears. When Charlie was 5 months old he got hearing aids which he wore full time until he was 15 months old. I had suspected he was hearing better around Christmas of 2006 (before C's first b-day). I should have pushed the Audiologist to order a sedated ABR test, but instead went along with her suggestion that his crying at loud noises was simply "a kid thing." At a routine hearing test when he was 15 months, Charlie began to respond to sounds in the normal hearing range! Weird! After that appointment I put the hearing aids in the drawer, and never took them out again. A month later in May of 2007, we had another hearing test at a different Audiologist who has more experience working with children who have developmental delays. Charlie passed again! At that point Charlie officially had "normal hearing." Cool!

It is extremely unusual for people with sensorineural hearing loss to experience improvement. In Charlie's case one of three things happened:
1) He was misdiagnosed by the first Audiologist (who is a wonderful person, but did not have as much experience testing children who have cognitive delays, and whose equipment was often "temperamental").
2) Charlie's brain needed more experience with sound to have his hearing fully "kick-in."
3) He was hearing impaired, and as the result of many, many prayers from many people, he was healed.

Of course we will never know for sure just why Charlie was hearing impaired for the months that he was, or why he has full hearing now. What ever it is, it is an amazing GIFT from GOD. We are so thankful for Charlie that he does not have to deal with a hearing loss on top of the other things that can cause language delay in people with Down Syndrome. And you know what? Some good came of his hearing loss diagnosis. As a result of his diagnosis, we learned many, many tricks to help him learn to listen well, and learn to talk and communicate effectively. And Charlie is doing great in all these areas!

It think we're the highest

Anyone paying more than $4.69 a gallon for regular unleaded gas? That's what I paid yesterday at the discount gas place in my town. It cost me $70 bucks to fill my tank!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Also Known As...

Charlie can say the names of many of his family members. Here's his version:

Ray (daddy) - "Way" (Usually just calls him "Dada.")
Kim (mommy) - "Mim" (I am usually called "Mama.")
Calvin - "Baby"
Uncle Russ - "Wuss"
Aunie Renee - "Nay"
Uncle Ryan - "Wyn"
Grandma - "Mamama"
Grandpa - "Papa"
Nana - "Nana" (as in ba-nana, but Nana says she doesn't care if Charlie calls her banana!)
Papa - "Papa" (duh!)
Auntie Kelly - Well, last time I asked him to say Kelly he put his hand on his head and said "moo." Guess we'll have to work on that one!LOL

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Walking

Charlie is doing so well at walking. Here is a short video of him walking down the front path at our house. Sorry it's blurry, but you'll get the idea. I was holding the baby while shooting the video, and you can hear him cooing in the background.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

A Proud Moment

Yesterday was Charlie's first day of summer "school." He goes to the children's center at our local University two half days a week. It has been so great for him. He learns so much from the other kids, and enjoys all the activities they have there--especially the jungle gym and slide (By the way, Charlie calls slides "weeeeeee!" Very Cute!).

Charlie started taking steps the week before the Spring session ended. Today he held my finger and boldly walked from the car to the stairs in front of his class, and then again from his cubby to the sink, and from the sink to the play area. I almost started crying right then as he carefully placed each foot, walking so slowly while his little friends ran by. I could tell by the concentration in his face that he knew he was doing it: He was walking just like the other kids do. He's been the only crawler in the program for the last two semesters. I think he is proud of himself. I hope he is. I am.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Kinetic Grand Championship

Last weekend we had the privilege of watching the start of the fabulous Kinetic Grand Championship from the rooftops of the town square. What is the Kinetic Grand Championship? It is a three day kinetic sculpture race of a wonderful, querky kind. One of the rules of the race is you must bring a bribe for the judges (I'm not sure what the judges are even there for). Oh, and the #1 rule is the race must go on even if the sun comes out!

What exactly is a kinetic sculpture? Kinetic Sculptures are man powered vehicles. The sculptures in this race must be able to travel on paved road, through the dunes on the beach, and through the bay. The sculptures usually involve bicycle type technology, and float using pontoons. As for the sand dunes, well, I'm really not sure how they do that part. I've never seen that stage of the race. He's some pictures of our day.

The square.
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The "Hippiepotomus"
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Daddy and Charlie.
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After the watching the race, we headed down stairs to our friends apartment and met their brand new kitty.

Yes, that's a tissue box he is sleeping on. Awww!
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